How we tested
Mashable product reviewers (especially our unofficial vacuum cleaner expert, Senior Shopping Reporter Leah Stoddart) have tested a lot of robot vacuums in recent years, from budget $150 models that mindlessly zig-zag back and forth to cleaning robots for $1,500 that can do double duty as home security guards (or let you check on your dogs!). However, testing hybrid robot vacuums and mops requires some additional steps.
For this review, we separately tested several bots’ ability to vacuum and clean hardwood, carpet, and tile surfaces. When cleaning dry debris, we scattered debris (read: cocoa pebbles) around the floor and along the edges of the wall to test suction and edge cleaning. When this process was complete, we stained the floor with a small piece of syrup. We wanted to see how well these bots could handle stubborn stains, which is not what they were technically designed for. If these vacuums just go over the syrup stain without wiping it off, what’s the point of getting a hybrid vacuum vs a normal vacuum after all?
We’ve found that to clean effectively, the best hybrid models need to do more than scrub the floor with a wet pad. The Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1, the best mop we tested for this guide (and one you can read our dedicated, in-depth review for), uses a combination of sonic scrubbing and a floor cleaning solution to deep clean, which other bots just couldn’t match.
However, to earn a spot in our guide to the best robot vacuum/mop hybrids, these cleaning machines had to do more than vacuum and mop. We also tested their navigation capabilities, obstacle avoidance, self-emptying and smart mapping features. For devices with special features like sonic cleaning, carpet recognition or spot cleaning, we’ve also tested those features to make sure they can really deliver what they promise. All this means: We had high standards for the vacuum/mop hybrids we tested, and you should too!
In our tests, we found that the best hybrid robot vacuums offer a combination of essential features—effective mapping and navigation, carpet detection, sonic cleaning, and self-emptying. We chose to include a few robot vacuums that offer some of these features, though we weren’t able to test them for this story (yet). All of these featured products are manufactured by companies with proven reputations for delivering high-quality goods (psst…we recommend avoiding unknown budget brands in this product category).